Sticks, Stones, Elvis & Apples

When I was 23 or so, I worked at a Summer Drama day camp.

One of the lessons I taught the kids in my class that particular Summer was around the power of thoughts and the impact of words not only on others, but on our own self-concept and well-being. At the time, I believe there was a story from Elvis Stojko circulating about how he felt his own negative or positive self-talk had a significant effect on his performance as an athlete. I told the kids this story, then we would put the theory into action by pairing them up for an experiment to see whether Elvis (or whichever amazing athlete it was!) was onto something. ūüėČ

Kid #1 would stand strong, planting their feet firmly into the floor, their only task being to not let themselves be moved from that spot, no matter what. When they felt they were holding steady, Kid #2 would try to push them out of position.

During the first pass of the ‘experiment,’ they were to hold a negative thought they typically had about themselves in their minds and repeat it to themselves as they attempted to stay standing. They always fought SO hard to stay grounded as Kid #2 pushed…

No matter how hard they tried, none of them managed to stand in place for long.

In the second pass, they would hold a positive thought (or the image of someone they loved who they felt believed in them) in their minds. If they imagined a loved one, I encouraged them to visualize this person cheering them on, saying positive things about them. Kid #1 would stand their ground again, holding that positive inner space, and without fail, it took herculean efforts from the second child to push them off their resolute footing.

The “Elvis Day” always left the kids deep in thought, and uncharacteristically speechless.

Whether they were in the early stages of setting their own limited, negative beliefs about themselves (or having them set for them), or entrenched in the tumultuous brain chatter of their teenage years, this particular lesson was always an “aha” moment. It suddenly became very clear to the campers that the quality, tone and intention of what we say to ourselves and to others matters more than we can even begin to understand — that negative thoughts/words are the “sticks & stones” of the emotional/mental body, and that the wounds sustained from them can be very deep, with scars and imprints that last just as long (some, even longer) than their physical counterparts.

I loved seeing a startling reminder of this concept today in the form of Danielle LaPorte‘s 25-day Good Apple/Bad Apple experiment. What happens to an apple after you praise it for 25 days? Even more shocking is what happens when you talk smack to it.
Have a look-see (and be amazed) on Danielle‘s blog here.
It might be just the proof we need to do a little Spring cleaning on our thoughts, words and intentions…

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A little goes a long way

What if we started to break up the big, heaping chunk of love we felt we had to give into little bite-sized pieces? That way, we wouldn’t feel like we needed to exhaust ourselves to the maximum limit every single day and fall into bed at night feeling we have nothing left.

What if we were to simplify and watch what beauty can unfold when we put the most attention (and INtention) into the smallest (and seemingly most insignificant) things?

I had a great heart-to-heart yesterday with the two lovely women who work at the front desk of my dentist’s office. Even as they were both dealing with clients making payments and booking appointments, they would always (sometimes in tandem, which was making us all laugh) lift their eyes from what they were doing to smile, wave and acknowledge any new patients who were coming in for their appointment. I could see the look on the patient’s face light up — even though they may have just been coming in to get their teeth cleaned or a crown fixed, there was a knowledge from the moment they walked in the door that they mattered.

Acknowledging the existence of another human being out in the world is the simplest form of kindness and love we can give to a friend or stranger alike. In acknowledging someone else, we silently acknowledge our own humanity and the ways in which we are all connected in this life.

The little bits of love you think won’t have an impact have the power to grow a heart the most.

xo A.

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Ugh, I GET this. Do you?

Ok, BIG¬†“Honesty Moment.”

And to be fair, someone else probably coined that term, and probably says that they made it up.

I’m not going to claim that I did or that I didn’t since, really, it’s the most unoriginal (and literal) thing to call a moment of truth.

But sometimes “literal” is brilliant — that’s just what it is, a moment of honesty;¬†those are the two words that genuinely come up when I am about to say something that I feel to be gut-wrenching-and-heart-gushing truth, or when I see something that draws up a neglected file of haphazard, half-processed materials¬†from the recesses of my brain; from the messy file room of EVERYTHING that I have been thinking, worrying, musing, sorting, contemplating as of late…

And this is when the¬†worry comes¬†that I’ve ALREADY written about something to this effect (see Nothing Is Yours), and perhaps I am only triple underlining¬†the fact that, no matter how hard we try to be original in this big, bold, creative¬†world, we still find ourselves coming up short and re-inventing someone else’s wheel. And maybe I’m being unoriginal or predictable by drawing from a beautiful writer who I consider, at afar, to be someone who teaches me a great deal more about the world within and without us than she probably will ever realize (or ever intended to when she wrote her¬†wildly successful memoir unveiling¬†her journey into wholeness after heartache).

Today, on the good old Facebook, this torchbearing warrior goddess of truth shared this:

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It hit me so hard that all I could bring myself to comment back to her was “Yes. This. Yes. Ugh. Yes.” Or something to that effect.

Original!?

NO!

Eloquent!?

HARDLY!

Authentic?

HECK YES.

Even our speechlessness can be the most truthful response of all.

I am certain¬†A LOT of you will get this too, so naturally, I’m sharing it.

And now, trusting in¬†my own words, I’d like to¬†share something else:

Navigating this world from the space of my heart (and trusting my intuition) has made my life¬†richer, more colourful and more meaningful. It has also made things both¬†clear and confusing in equal measure. There are stretches of the journey where I feel well-equipped, strong, confident, hopeful, and absolutely in my stride. On¬†others, I feel like I’m missing a shoelace on one shoe, short on snacks, tired, losing daylight, and needing to pause for an indefinite period of time to gaze¬†up at the perceived Summit¬†and wondering how on earth I ever thought I could get up there. There’s also the part of me that gets much joy¬†out of seeing other awe-inspiring¬†people succeed, witnessing them¬†finding that place¬†of flow and meaning in their lives, the¬†space and clarity where¬†everything is clicking. After all, they have earned it. I’ve seen them struggle and press on to be where they are, to realize their dreams, and they deserve every single second.

Another of part me just wishes I was up there with them already, bypassing the part that I’m working with, and coming up with mere scraps of clarity. It can feel like I’ve been asked to solve a Rubix¬†Cube to proceed, and I ain’t NO master of the Rubix Cube!

The compass that guides me¬†in my life will never direct me wrong. I know that to be true. On some legs of this journey,¬†though, the needle¬†begins to spin every which way, pulling me between what I know within myself to be more valuable and more lasting, and the realities of the material world. I have already answered The Call; I can’t un-answer, nor would I want to. I am 7 (maybe even 8) years deep into this particular answering and there is absolutely no turning back. I have chosen my work, and I would never wish to undo anything that has unfolded, or bypass the mysteries and beautiful surprises yet to come. For everything that I ever feel is unclear or uncertain in my life, there are many more things that I know in my bones¬†to be true, good, and purposeful.

You can’t put a price tag on those.

We’ve probably all heard at some point that we are here to offer our unique gifts to the people of this world and to the planet we live on. I am fortunate to know¬†some incredible people who¬†have the best intentions to make lives healthier, happier, brighter, and more easeful… Lucky me, I am¬†surrounded by this kind of light a lot of the time. But what if, by job description or title, what you do isn’t unique?

The other night, I had the immense privilege of helping out at Mastin Kipp‘s ‘Growing Into Grace‘ event here in Calgary. It got my week off with such an epic bang that I am reeling to piece together everything I learned and all the questions that have come up as a result… which are really an extension of all the questions I have been asking since I leapt to find greater purpose in my work life 3 years ago.¬†I’m going to bet that the vast majority of the people in the room that night want to do some variation of¬†what he does — write/blog, teach, speak, inspire, mentor, lead, and ultimately, change lives for the better around the world while¬†having financial wellness that not only allows them¬†to take care of themselves, but¬†also to make contributions towards the betterment of others.

And if I’m even more honest, I would love nothing more than that myself, in my own unique way. (“Unique” meaning in knowing for certain what my capital-S Service is that I enrich the world with, and how I offer it. We’ve already acknowledged, even silently, that this world is practically being taken over by blogging yoga teachers. ;-))

Mastin told us that, before he began this ever-growing venture that became The Daily Love, he checked to see how many people do something to the effect that he does:

90,000 people (!!!!)

Later on, when I heard one of the ladies there mention this kind of work was something she felt she could/wanted to do, I felt any fragments of a dream I had created for myself start to dissolve. And why, WHY, would I do that to my own dreams, just because someone else was showing a sliver of confidence in their desire to create something more meaningful for themselves?!

I know in my heart that everything is here, that you can only truly be THERE by being HERE, and that THERE is really just HERE. 

Read: The treasure you are seeking is in this moment.

You are already living your purpose, whether it is your ‘job’ or not.¬†¬†

HERE is IT. THIS is IT.

And then, some days, I feel like I couldn’t be more far away from where I feel I need or want to be, and HERE just seems to be a puddle of uncertainty and fog.

I am also learning that what falls away in our lives is just as important as what falls into place.

Grace.

What was never ours is giving us the gift of something greater…an opportunity. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person, but I’ve got my eyes on the bigger picture through it all. One definition of Grace is “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration.”

Regeneration. Re-inspiration. An opportunity to dig deeper, burn brighter, dream bigger, see clearer.

When you’re navigating rough seas, nothing feels better than knowing you are not unique in your seeking, that you are not as¬†alone in your storm as you may feel. Being “unoriginal” never felt better than when you are facing life’s trials.

Be that as it may, what we¬†DO need to know is that, though each of our¬†situations may not look much different from the outside, our¬†ability to be authentic about it, to summon our¬†courage and tell¬†our¬†story… IS.

The steps along the path may be smaller some days, but¬†they are still steps worth taking… And¬†I’m going to let Liz close this one, because hey, I’m not going to re-invent the wheel, and her authenticity speaks loud and clear¬†to me this morning:

“So whatever it is that you dream of doing (creating, traveling, loving, inventing, transforming) just do it. Don’t worry if you’re the 100th person to do it. Just do it, anyhow, and be sure that you bring the highest purity of intention to your pursuit. Act from a place of your deepest authenticity, and the rest of it will take care of itself…
And trust me, if you are authentic, you WILL be original.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Showing Up

It is far earlier in the morning than I would care to be awake, the second morning within the bookends of this week that I have found myself wondering, “Really?! Now?! Can’t I just sleep?!”

I immediately think of my friends with babies. This is their norm, except the bonus is that when they wake up, they have the eyes of a sweet, innocent little soul to look into; I am sure I could promptly get the comeback that this early-rising of mine doesn’t involve someone needing something of me, or the cacophony that ‘needing’ creates, and at least I am waking to relative quiet, to my own thoughts…

True enough, I guess…

I am falling into that place of recognition and gratitude for the moments of ‘freedom’ where I will, one day, have the needs of my children at the forefront of my mind. I know the frustration of restless slumber (and early rising when there is no clear desire to do so) is strikingly similar across the board whether we have children or not, and being the baby-lover and wannabe mother that I am, I still haven’t heard a single one of my new parent friends say they look into the faces of their young early birds and wish that little smile wasn’t there to greet them in the wee hours. Like any other, parent or non-parent, I’d prefer to have some good sleep so l can live fully in the world and in the lightness of my own being. Until parenthood becomes my reality, what I am waking up to when I am called out of bed at what would be referred to as ‘ungodly hours’ (others would say this is some of the most ‘godly’ time of all) is far less tangible…and let’s face it, waking to the hamster wheel of ‘my own thoughts’ is not always what could be deemed a relaxing experience.

It may not be a baby crying out for me, but something else is.

In previous incarnations of this scenario, I would resist. I would lie in bed, my mind processing scraps of thoughts and seemingly unrelated emotions, tinged by an overarching shade of exasperation at the fact that I’m not sawing logs like the darling man in bed beside me.

Very recently, I’ve stopped resisting.

There must be a reason for this. Go with it.

Show up.

I have really come to appreciate that Yoga is labeled as a ‘practice’ – a commitment to coming to a mat with whatever you’ve got, over and over and over. As a student said to me yesterday, “there is comfort in consistency.” The container of the practice can look very much the same in some contexts, but the more I release expectation and surrender, the more I learn. It’s bigger than just learning, though. It’s experiencing something in present moment time, exactly as it is meant to unfold, with all its kinks, smudges, and glimmers of light.

When I come to my mat, I almost ritualistically ease back into child’s pose with a sigh (the comfort in the consistency), gather the steadiness of my breath, then start to move instinctively, with no real knowing of what might arise.

What if I do this in Life? What if I silently answer “Present” right off the top, open up… and trust?

I wish I could say when I began to see the truth-telling mirror of Life and Practice, but I can certainly attest that, in the lead up to our wedding, there was a distinct acknowledgement of how futile it is to micro-manage and control — how we can set the foundation, the main plot points, but what unfolds from there is all up to the moment, that we need to be OK with that, and for extra brownie points, see that as being the magic. I used to be one of those people who tried to fit life into a box because it was a thing that we humans had to do. Doing so created an anxious need to know more, to know what’s next, and to be assured of all the details so I could feel at ease. Before I went to Bali, I remember pestering my teacher for as many details as I could as to how the whole week of training would go, what material we would cover, who I would be rooming with, blah blah blah. She gently called me out on my need-to-know-ness and did something really great that has radically changed my perception of how things can or should be:

She gave me enough to reinforce a strong, positive feeling in my gut, enough to get me from Point A to Point B safely and on schedule, and not nearly enough to cause my own expectations to ruin the experience.

Show up. Trust. Allow.

The result? Mindblowing. Changed my life. For real.

I’m not only seeing this yielding to uncertainty through glass-half-full, rose-coloured glasses, though I can attest that showing up with peace in my heart and nearly-zero expectations has yielded to some of the most beautiful, most connected and honest moments of my life to date. Just as truthfully, there have been seemingly normal, happy days that have been game-changers in more shocking ways than I could have ever expected. Regardless of their ‘tone,’ these events have shaped my life, each carrying their own lessons, wisdom and experience. I don’t regret them existing for a single second. They are my teachers.

Showing up, however, becomes much harder when things don’t go the way you planned, or when you feel like things aren’t going your way. Within the last few days, I have faced unexpected obstacles and that heave-ho of resistance, which, in the past, would have had me turning away from the horizon and feeling all my efforts were in vain; or contrarily, feeling I need to put on a brave face and just get to the other side, to a place that feels “better” than whatever is being felt in the Now.

These methods don’t seem to work so well for me anymore. As Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” Before you see the other side of the forest, you need to face the trees…and sometimes those trees are knotted, scary, have crazy faces and sing creepy songs.

On Sunday morning, reluctant to get out of my PJs and greet the world, I took solace in Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent interview with Oprah. It was like the internet heavens opened up and, in the form of a Liz (some of my favourite people on this planet are Lizzes), what I needed to hear was dropped into my blanket-covered lap.¬† In their discussion around Joseph Campbell’s concept of “The Hero’s Journey,” Liz brought in the idea of “The Call” — that this “Call” may very likely come at an inopportune time, and when called, you are faced with a choice: refuse the call, or answer.

Refuse? Go ahead, but expect nothing to change.

Answer? Well…buckle up.

Back when I chose the path of Yoga practice as an anchor in a time of uncertainty and tumult, I was naive to the fact that I was committing to answering a call that would ring not just once…but over and over and over again. The physical postures still teach me and humble me to no end, but it is through the quiet, meditative practice of Yoga Nidra (and in particular, in the past year of working through my limiting beliefs in the space of that practice) that has required digging to untouched and sometimes murky depths. Each belief, each day, each scenario, each interaction, offers me the opportunity to either put up the blinders and stay stuck and safe, or to recognize the faces of my limitations and conquer them heart on, to clear space amidst the weeds, sow seeds of positive intention and be totally open to how they will blossom.

Now, I see with more clarity the nuance of what needs to Be and what needs to fall away for something better, what needs to be ‘slept on’ and what needs to be faced. I have also had to reconcile myself with the fact that, no matter what we may be working through, there is a time for being alone and processing your emotions without the filters, risk of judgement or lofty expectations from anyone around you. There is also, however, an immense strength and courage in being present in your community, in your tribe, simply as you are.

On Monday morning, once again awake before the crack of dawn and still not quite on the other side of my cloud, I felt a habitual pull to stay in my pajamas, to conquer my to-do list from the comfort of home and avoid human contact for one more day. Only 24 hours before this, this cocooning was my most potent form of medicine, but on this particular day, something was calling me from the other side of the haze. I gathered the bits of me I felt were intact, cobbled them together and promptly took them out the door for a long walk to the yoga studio to practice. When I walked through the door, I saw beautiful, familiar faces of those who, whether I knew it or not, were all fighting their own battles that day. I knew in an instant that I had made the right choice. We all rolled out our mats and showed up to what was.

Messy and true, “what was” was the gift.

“What was” was the doorway, and no matter what I may find on the other side, I chose to answer the call. I choose to answer. I choose to listen.

It’s Wednesday, October 8th, 2014. It’s 4:30 AM. Your eyes are wide open. Why sleep? Why not just be what you are: Awake.

Show up. Allow. See what unfolds.

What unfolds is THIS. What unfolds is here.

How will you show up today?

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Sharing, Lotus & Brahma

A couple of months ago, I was asked to share a tidbit of writing in the Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre‘s monthly newsletter.

Here’s what emerged from my exploration of¬†the Hindu deity, Brahma (“creator of the universe and all things”), and the idea of creativity as being more than just something we explore through paint, clay, or the camera’s lens.

Sharing, Lotus & Brahma

Originally published in Bodhi Tree Yoga Centre’s February 2014 Breathing Room Newsletter.
PHOTO: I snapped this gorgeous ‘Rainbow over Field, BC’ when we pulled over on the side of the road en route from our engagement to a surprise celebratory dinner party with family & friends.

Why I Retreat (Part 2)

(…the ‘to be continued’ from Why I Retreat Part 1…)

As the saying goes, ‚ÄúLeap & the net will appear.‚ÄĚ

I leapt.

To be honest, I felt like I was falling for some time.

Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I‚Äôm not exactly sure I knew where I would land, or when. The period of time of nearly a whole year that I was ‚Äėlooking for It,‚Äô did not always run smooth, but I persisted.

What I didn’t always see at the time was that I was planting seeds.

One of the seeds I came to nourish, develop and fall in love with during that time of transition was with a group of yoga teacher friends. My dear friend Anita and I tossed the idea out there that it would be cool to try our hands at putting together a retreat. Fueled by the idea that we could¬†share this transformative experience (as in Part 1) with others, I saw beauty in this organic formation of a group of good-hearted people who would come together in a magical place to unwind, practice and grow. Whoever these people would be, I knew they would be joining us in a similar manner to how I dove into all my own retreat adventures ‚Äď by feeling a strong call to be there, whether to heal, to rest, to have fun, to get re-inspired or to simply feel reprieve from the snow and cold.

Inspired, we approached our  yoga teacher friend Jeff Mah with our idea. The intention was pretty clear: a yoga getaway in a place that would take your breath away, opportunities for people to practice, eat amazing food, soak up the beauty of nature, re-connect with themselves (and some new friends!), and return home feeling like a million bucks.

One year after Bali,¬†One More Breath Retreats¬†(a team comprised of¬†Jeff Mah & his partner Hilary Young,¬†Anita Athavale, me and our incomparable chef¬†Brett McDermott) brought a group to Maui. Bringing this dream to reality involved countless hours of e-mailing, phone calling, coordinating and gathering around Jeff & Hilary‚Äôs kitchen table, or (one of my most favourite ‘tasks’) sitting on¬†Brett‚Äôs living room floor sampling the kinds of foods he envisioned serving up to our guests. (Drool.)

When the retreat arrived at last, I remember¬†stepping off our flight and walking¬†out into a classic, balmy Hawaii morning. The sight of the palm trees and feeling of the soft, warm, humid air turned us all into mush. We had only been¬†on this island for a matter of minutes when Jeff said, ‚ÄúGuys, we‚Äôre totally coming back here.‚ÄĚ

And we did.

As we had expected, the nicest, down-to-earth group of people came together and willingly agreed to be our guinea pigs for two very different experiences that I am positive none of us will soon forget. No matter how each participant chose to spend their time, our hope was  that each person who joined us would leave on departure day feeling that they had found even a sliver of what they needed.

Our first retreat (in 2012) fell over the Leap Year and one¬†of our cherished¬†retreaters celebrated his leap year birthday half way through our week together. That night, I¬†remember looking around at this big-hearted group that¬†had banded¬†together to kick off John’s¬†upcoming year with laughter and good cheer. As this community-away-from home celebrated their new-found friend, I saw another layer to this Leap Year celebration.

Each and every one of these amazing people had seen themselves in our dream as vividly as we had seen them in it. They saw us jump, and had whole-heartedly jumped in alongside us.

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 Still flying high from the second Maui trip in 2013, a new opportunity to retreat presented itself in our own backyard.

My Dad had been raving about his multiple return experiences to a hidden gem called Maurelle Island off the coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Go With The Flow Adventures¬†is¬†the luxury kayaking dream/brain child of a wonderful couple named Brody Wilson & Cristina Fox. Brody was keen to marry¬†the meant-for-each other activities of Kayaking¬†and Yoga. We would¬†paddle the calm waters of the Discovery Islands during the day, have daily yoga practices both at the luxury base camp and out in nature on our paddling trips, eat delicious home-cooked food (again, good food — very important!), and allow ourselves a week to simply, well, go with the flow.

We were SO in.  Kayak + Yoga = Kayoga! Then Mother Nature threw an unexpected test our way.

Just over a week before we were due to leave, Southern Alberta was hit with a devastating flood.

Our hometowns of Calgary & Canmore declared a state of emergency.

No matter whether the flood affected our own neighbourhoods directly or not, we were all in shock.

Our hearts were torn. Was this really the time to skip town when the entire city was putting on gumboots and venturing down into the affected areas to help out with the clean up?

Two of our guests who were to join us on the trip were feverishly working with a host of volunteers to save their family home.

The highway between Calgary & Canmore was a mess.

For a moment there, it was hard to see how this was going to happen as we had hoped.¬†But something inside me told me that the timing of this trip couldn’t have been more perfect. We were all emotionally drained. Stressed. Exhausted. Our city had been working around the clock to get life back on track for its citizens. As I visualized the quiet, island oasis that I knew Maurelle would absolutely be for us, I couldn’t help but feel that our perception of Mother Nature right now was a bit skewed, and that all we needed was to be reminded of the healing ¬†forces of nature .

I searched  for a sign to validate my feeling that getting some reprieve from the stress and chaos of a city in crisis was actually a good thing and not something to feel guilty about.

Hallejulah. I found this quote (and promptly plastered it on top of a beautiful image that Brody had sent me).

nature restores

It was hard for every single one of us to not feel guilt-ridden about getting away, if only for a week.

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 It turned out that a week was all we needed.

Maurelle was pure magic.

There was laughter and tears.

There were groans as shoulders and hips were stretched.

There were sighs as we settled into Yoga Nidra and relaxation.

We couldn’t get enough of the quiet and stillness there, being out in the¬†fresh air all day every day,¬†rolling our mats out overlooking the water,¬†the incredible food, the hot tub, the paddling, the fluffy white bathrobes, the stars that lit up the night sky…

It was the best medicine. 

When we saw the relaxed faces, bright eyes and contented smiles on our guests as they (somewhat reluctantly!) began their journey back home, it became clear to me why the retreat experience holds a value that can never be quantified:

When we give ourselves the opportunity to rest, relax, heal, and brighten our own inner light, we have SO much more to to give to the world. 

The photo below¬†shows one of the most painful¬†sunburns I have ever had the privilege of sporting. More¬†than that, though,¬†I snapped this photo in Bali as a¬†reminder of why I retreat, and now, why I have felt inspired¬†to share this experience with others. What I can see in my own eyes and face in this picture speaks volumes — that I took a leap and gave¬†myself¬†permission to let go, unwind, take care of myself, have fun, be quiet, rest, get grounded, explore, connect with my own heart and re-fill my tank so I could be a better person in my day-to-day life.

Call it cliche, but Morocco, Mexico, Bali — and then eventually Maui and Maurelle Island — have all changed¬†the way I love, think, and live.

In each of these places, I have gotten to know myself better just as much through the exhilarating¬†moments¬†as I have through challenges on my yoga¬†mat, or recently, in the kayak! ¬†When I retreat, I¬†dig deep. It isn’t always easy, but every time, I feel I have¬†found¬†strength and energy to make¬†my life and world more meaningful.

Isn’t¬†that what it’s all about — how well you lived, how well you loved, and how you shared your light to help illuminate the world?

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‘Here’ & ‘Then’

Ah, a brand new year! A time when we are positively dripping with ideas and optimism on how we can be better, look better, do better, feel better, [fill in the blanks] better than we did last year. A time of planning, goals, lists, intentions, and creating an overarching ‘theme’ or direction for the days ahead.

There is an immense amount of beauty in this idea — this reminder — that it is never too late to reinvent ourselves, work on who we are, create or seek out new opportunities, build new foundations, take long-awaited leaps into the unknown (or towards the next ‘trapeze’), forge new connections… There’s something refreshing about leaving an old set of days and events behind you, but carrying their lessons forward, ¬†knowing you have the next 365 days to create your experience.

A clean slate. A new journal. A blank canvas.

Then there’s the other part.

On the flipside of feeling this energetic tsunami of new ideas, hopes and dreams, there’s this possibility of feeling completely overwhelmed. Not bad, mind you, but just…wow, a lot. Does anybody feel that?

Somehow, the dreaming and scheming and hoping and wishing has managed to transport our thoughts, our intentions, to a completely different time — “next week,” “by the end of January,” “in 3 months,” “9 months,” “by Christmas of next year…” And then there’s one of my favourites: “In 5 years…”

“By this time, I will have…”

“By this time, I’d like to be…”

“By this time, I hope that my life will look like…”

In the haze of waking up this morning, I found that my mind was spinning with the infinite number of things I needed to ponder, decide on, do, not do, take charge of, ¬†let go of and ¬†change, ¬†in order to further create ¬†this beautiful thing for myself that, ultimately, I can’t say I have a fully formed vision of yet. In my desire to devise this long-term picture of where I want to go, who I want to be and what I want to do, I was completely overlooking ‘the moment.’ At the same time, I felt innately connected to the fact that how I felt in that moment (mostly tired from too many late nights — aren’t holidays supposed to be relaxing?!) was not the way I wanted to feel for the next 361 days.

So then, of course, in comes the mental list.

“Well, in order to feel X, then here’s what you need to do:”

Out pours this completely daunting list (mostly daunting because it is so long!) of what might make a difference.¬†¬†Just as it is nearly impossible to know EXACTLY how our lives will look in 5 years’ time, how do we know that after doing all those things, we will feel exactly how we hope to feel? How can we predict what forks in the road may pop up that will steer us off course, perhaps not completely, but enough for us to be forced to take in the scenic route for a while? Plus, with only so many hours in a day, and our chronically over-committed schedules, how can we possibly fit ALL of those things into our day-to-day lives in a way that is mindful and effective, that doesn’t involve half-assing everything just for the sake of being able to put a big fat checkmark in the box beside it?

This, my friends, is ‘Then.’

‘Then’ is where all this mind-clutter, self-doubt, indecision, stress and overwhelm reside. My mind, in this moment, is clearly in ‘Then.’ I’m pretty sure my heart has followed suit. And probably a bit of my soul is pouring out of me riding a high speed train to ‘THEN.’

All of a sudden, between the click of the kettle signaling the water has boiled and the pot of milk on the stove beginning to steam, I remember where I am.

‘Here.’

My body is ‘Here.’ I am in this place called ‘Here’ (which is often referred to as ‘Now’). I slowly bring my awareness back out of ‘Then’ and realize the only place I can possibly be right now is HERE.

Wouldn’t we all love to be in the idyllic picture we paint of our lives, where we have more of X, and less of Y, and the perfect balance of everything that we believe will create a ‘perfect’ life? In this time of creating a new paradigm for the coming year, there is ¬†boldness in keeping your sights set high on the big picture, of finding clarity in what you want to achieve, and who you want to be. It strengthens your idea of where you want to go so you can bravely put one foot in front of the other, and find your way there. But I say this to remind myself as much as I hope it reminds you…

‘Here’ is It. It is all we have. If ‘Here’ was the end, would we be content?

Rather than finding heaven on earth...jpg